Why you need to stop judging parents in the public with their children

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Life with little ones.

Unpredictable.

I’m the mom that’s out in public, sympathizing with the parents of screaming children. While my 19 month old son is exceptionally well-behaved in public, he’s had his moments like every child does. Having only one child, I’m able to be vigilant about damage control. One parent, one child. I can usually calm him down, entertain him, or get through our ventures a little faster to keep him content. If he’s really unhappy and going to go into full on tantrum mode, I promptly leave. But add more children in the equation? I’d certainly not be able to control the situation.

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That being said, guess what world? Parents need to go out just like anyone else. We need groceries, stamps, we need to go to doctor’s appointments. Just like anyone else, going out is not optional. And why should we avoid going out? If anyone needs to avoid cabin fever, it’s those trapped talking with babies and toddlers 24/7, watching Minions endlessly, and cleaning up mashed Goldfish crackers from the carpet. We need to know that a world still exists outside of our life of parenting little ones.

Just a few weeks ago, I found myself in an odd situation. I was on my lunch break from my part-time job at one of my favorite local restaurants. The table in front of me consisted of two middle-aged working women, also on their lunch break I’d assume. Behind me, there were two moms and several little ones ranging from infant to 3 or 4 year olds. The children were restless, not sitting down, a toddler was taking her shoes off and joining other tables to see what other patrons were up to. My own parenting style wouldn’t allow my children to bother other paying customers, but I was not irritated, upset, or put-off by the children at the restaurant. The mothers there, were obviously outnumbered. One had a leg cast up to her hip. The two working women at the table in front of me were beyond irritated and made plenty of snarky comments. I suppose they were waiting for a reaction from me, as the one small child kept coming over and hanging out with me.

But they didn’t get a reaction from me.

Instead, I talked to the little girl and let her sit at our table for a few minutes.

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Children do not come programmed with emotions. And parents aren’t perfect. While children should be taught how to act in public, it’s not an overnight process. This was a family-friendly restaurant, not a place where you should expect to dine quietly or without some small annoyance. I often find myself conflicted about going out in public, especially to restaurants, where I fear that my toddler’s unpredictable moods could impact the experience of other customers. More recently, I’ve gotten over the fear of judgement and just done it.

Our littles can’t learn how to act in public if they aren’t allowed in public.

I think that people forget what it’s like to have children or have simply not been around them a lot. The level of annoyance that I see on a daily basis caused by small children is astounding to me. Most parents, myself and my husband included, are doing the best we can to raise a responsible, kind, considerate little person. I’m guessing it will take around 20 years.

So, the next time you’re in public and annoyed by a child that isn’t perfectly well-behaved, do yourself a favor and choose kindness over judgement or harsh reaction.

Sometimes all a parent needs to get through the day is a smile from a stranger when their toddler is refusing to leave aisle 2 in Target.

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When you stop bending your life…

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I just saw Bad Moms this week, and I relate on so many levels it’s almost scary…

All of the BurritoBuzz moms know how busy I am. I know that everyone is busy, and that “busy” is just a state of being when you’re in your mid to late twenties. Life doesn’t stop. And if you let it stop, you’re either 1. Dead. 2. Homeless or 3. Eating Doritos on your couch binge watching Stranger Things (no judgement). If you read this blog, you know that I take busy to a whole new level. I work, own a business, write for BB, hike, am a gym rat when time allows and raise the most beautiful, amazing 18 month old (in addition to somehow keeping a clean home). And sometimes, when things come up, I inconvenience my entire daily routine to appease others. I like doing things. If you’ve heard people being termed “do-ers,” that’s me. I can’t sit still. And while I like doing things, because it makes me feel fulfilled, sometimes doing things means bringing unneeded chaos into my life, out of the fear of offending someone by not doing said things.

But here’s the thing: outside of the things I have to do, I shouldn’t be bending my life unless I want to. Things that used to take precedence in my life have been moved to the back burner.

Need a card for a birthday party but it’s nap time? Too bad, we’re going to color a card instead of going to the store. (Aren’t handmade cards better anyway?)

Impromptu friend get together at my toddler’s bedtime? #WholeLottaNope Changing that tiny human’s sleep schedule makes everyone miserable. Want me to go out past 10pm? Also, a big fat no. With a toddler that gets up at 5am-6am, this mama requires sleep.

Want to have a huge family gathering, but it’s hot as shit and there’s nothing he’s going to want to do outside of ripping your breakables from your shelves? Hard pass.

My once feelings of guilt for not always saying “yes” have subsided. Because let’s face it, the sanity of my family is infinitely more important. And while I firmly believe that life shouldn’t stop when you have a baby and that you should integrate them into your typical life happenings, some things are just more hassle than what they’re worth. When life is a constantly revolving door of work, unpaid Uber driving for my toddler and trying to make sure that I at least have enough food in the fridge to feed him, the last thing I should be worrying about is the impression I’m leaving on others when I do or do not participate in events.Moms-funny21.jpg

So, my guilt? Gone.Thankfully, most of my friends and family remember the days of having small children and understand fully that we do what we can, when we can. We try to see everyone and participate in life, but they understand that life happens and that tiny humans are unpredictable. But to the occasional person that forgets these things, or just doesn’t realize how truly exhausting and long the days are, please forgive us. Our lives are ruled by tiny dictators and sometimes a nap for a grumpy toddler trumps the party that we missed.

– Katie

Stop trying to one-up the struggle…

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The comparison of struggle. Sometimes, it seems like parents are wanting to complain in a way that makes it seem like one person has it worse than the other. Like, “oh, your baby doesn’t sleep? Well, my baby is teething horribly which is so much worse.”

But I’ve said it before, where’s the empathy?

*Disclaimer: I’m addicted to ecards, which I’ll be using in abundance in this post.*

Why can’t one person’s struggle be acknowledged instead of mulled over and one-upped by another person’s struggle? babbleoneupper.png

And here’s the truth: we all have some kind of struggle going on. Whether we talk about it openly or not.

Even then, sometime I’ll just be in conversation and talking about a difficult phase we’ve been going through. Right now we’re dealing with some major toddler tantrums. Instead of saying “oh, I remember those days!” or “this too shall pass” or “it gets easier” or something uplifting, I often hear things like “he’ll be worse when he’s two!” “wait until he talks more…” blah blah blah.

When our son didn’t sleep, like at all, for 9 months, I got so much advice on things we should be doing. Like hello, I don’t enjoy being sleep deprived. If you think I hadn’t already tried those things, you are very wrong.

images.pngSo here’s what I’m getting at: it’s okay to identify and acknowledge someone else’s struggle without being upset that they aren’t facing your exact struggle. Sometimes we all just need to talk about what’s going on to get through the day.

A comparison I’ve heard recently: If you break your leg, you might scream that you’re in pain. In response, someone says to you “every bone in my body is broken!” But here’s the thing, the person with the broken leg is still in pain, whether or not it’s the same pain that you have or to the extent that you have it. It doesn’t make their issue any less of an issue.

This idea goes far beyond just parenting, but I’ve never before experienced such negativity and lack of compassion and empathy as I have since becoming a parent. 1338588890104_3927523.png

When someone takes the time to tell me their struggle these days, I try diligently to get on their level, to show that I care about their difficulties. And it’s impossible to always say the right thing, but I think that if we all try just a little harder to empathize we’ll be in much better shape. Our relationships will be stronger indefinitely.

– Katie

Empathy.

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Empathy.

“The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” 

I’ve been struggling a lot lately to understand the nature of competitive parents. I’m sure I’ve done it, unknowingly, or maybe even knowingly. I’m not sure. If I have, I’m sorry.

I find myself really pushing to be understanding, sympathetic, and empathetic lately. But I can’t tell you how often I see parents saying things like “just wait until this…” or “we never had that problem” or “you’re doing it wrong.”

Parenting is hard, dudes. And ladies, who I also call dudes. Why do we have to make it harder by competing with each other? Why do we have to be so judge-y? What is so hard about respect and showing some kindness?

Can’t we just say “yeah, I totally get it! I hope your situation improves soon. That has to be hard”? Why do we have to put ourselves on soap boxes pretending our parenting methods are better than the parenting methods of others?

I have a friend, who shall remain anonymous. (I’m sure she might read this, so hey girl!) She hasn’t slept through the night in a year. I mean, every 2 hours she’s up. Anyone that knows us can tell you that our son has not been a good sleeper either, but usually not to that extent anymore. So, when I talk to her… yeah, I understand. Am I in the same boat? Not often these days. But can I listen, be supportive, and offer some encouragement without asking “have you done this_______?” Heck yes I can. I can say, I remember what it’s like to be that sleep deprived, and it is HARD and I hope that your little guy starts SNOOZIN LIKE A PRO STAT!

Empathy-Four-ElementsSo here’s my challenge to everyone parenting (including caretakers,) let’s get on the same level and stop belittling one another. Yeah? Just really think before you speak, or type on some forum where you can hide behind your computer screen. What would you want to hear? What would make you feel better?

We’re good parents. We have healthy babies. There are hard times, but hopefully we can mostly remember the good. We need a little understanding, and some empathy can go a long way.

Here are some smart kids talking about empathy. They get it. Let’s get it, too.

-Katie

Parenting Advice: Guilty?

8cbae746b97a743e4ea5dd0d19b52680I’m a first-time parent, and if I wasn’t already sure of that before, having received parenting advice from virtually every individual I know with a child, I am definitely sure of it now.

The first few months after having a baby, especially your first baby, are overwhelming. My husband and I were together nearly 10 years before welcoming our son into the world. Though a very wanted, and awaited change to our lives, we found ourselves treading water. My thoughts were a jumbled mess, which were due to a nice combination of fatigue, hormones, and flat out doubt of my parenting-abilities.

I spent many nights reading, Googling endlessly for ways to do things. Was I swaddling correctly? Should my baby be drinking this much? Drinking this little? Why is he crying so much? Should he be making these wheezing noises? When does cradle cap end? If I could have a running list of things I typed into Google, it would certainly span the lengths of encyclopedias. And more likely than not, I’d laugh at some of those questions now as a more experienced, more comfortable new parent.

So let me tell all of you new parents: It gets easier. It’s hard to believe now, and I definitely rolled my eyes at a few forum posts similar to this one when I was in those first few “survival months”… which we will refer to as the “dark ages.”

So, being a new parent I wasn’t prepared for all of the VERY assertive new-parent-advice that I would receive. Let me explain. There is a difference between saying “oh, this is how I did it as a parent. Maybe try this way!” and saying “no, you’re doing this wrong. You need to do________.” Or, even better, when an individual tells you how they did it, and then gossips behind your back about how wrong you’re doing everything.

So recently I conducted a survey with numerous questions, ranging from birth, to feeding, to weaning, to sleeping, etc. Responses by those that participated were so varied. Some parents used a birth plan, some didn’t. Some had medicated births, some didn’t. (You get the point.) There was NO PATTERN. What worked for each parent was extremely different than what worked for the rest.

My last question on the survey was “Do you often get unwanted parenting advice?” I allowed the answers of “Yes” “No” and “No, it’s always welcomed.” I got a few that responded with the latter two, but the overwhelming majority replied with “Yes.” 

My point? I have several.

  1. We’re all in this boat together. Sometimes this boat is a sinking ship. Sometimes we have to emit an SOS. Sometimes, we repair the leaks in our boat and keep on cruising. Don’t be critical of other moms just because your way isn’t their way.
  2. If you give advice: 1. Be kind. 2. Be understanding. 3. Don’t assume your way is best for all. 4. If someone is dropping hints that they don’t want advice, then stop.
  3. If you want advice: make sure you’re talking to individuals that won’t condemn you for your choices. Look for mothers that have had children recently. The hardest part of receiving advice from our own mothers and grandmothers is that it’s sometimes very outdated advice. (Some of it is great advice, don’t get me wrong– but some advice isn’t safe or medically advised.)
  4. If you’re a mom looking for solutions: there are other moms out there looking for the same solutions. Utilize forums and get a range of advice, it will help you to pick out the bad advice from the good. I’ve found Facebook groups to be particularly useful.
  5. If you’re a stranger, and you see a new parent out: generally, advice is not wanted. Instead offer encouragement. Being out in public with small children is already stressful enough, so try to be kind and understanding.

You’re doing great, parents. Google will be your best friend for a short time, but in a few months you’ll have this parenting thing mastered (it only took me 10 months, and I’m still learning every day.)

-Katie